The Omnivorous Reader - August, 2017

The Omnivorous Reader




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The Omnivorous Reader

September 5 · Issue #1 · View online

Recommendations, reviews, and assorted digital flotsam and jetsam

Hi, all.
Given my compulsive reading habits, I thought I’d put together a curated selection of things I’ve been reading or watching each month. 
Why You’re Getting This: This reading list is going out to old and new friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. If you’re receiving this, you’re in my contacts, and I thought you might appreciate it. 
Feel free to unsubscribe–obligatory reading is the worst. 

First Things First...
“I do things like get in a taxi and say, “The library, and step on it.” ― David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest
All of the reading recommendations will link to the associated Amazon page because it’s 2017, but also because of the Chrome Library Extension. 
If you use Chrome, this little script searches your local library for print and digital copies of the book any time you visit Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and a few other websites. 
My library started tabulating the amount of money I’ve saved over the course of the year in the receipt they give you at check out, and I’m over $5,300 so far for the year–largely due to this extension (and, I suppose, my willingness to abandon books I’m not enjoying). Still, a savings!
If your local library isn’t included, you can email the developer and they’ll add it. If you use Firefox, they seem to have something in the pipeline. 
 A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers
I first heard of this on an episode of The Incomparable podcast that reviewed all of the books shortlisted for the Hugo and Nebula awards. A sci-fi universe’s little details and nuances make or break most Sci-Fi for me–it’s why I loved The Expanse, too–and Chambers built this universe very thoughtfully. I ended up reading A Long Way to A Small Angry Planet first as it introduced the series, and while not as enjoyable or deep, it was pretty fun, too. 
Orbit was terrific, though. First person narration from an AI illegally embedded in a humanoid body? Giddy up! 
The Hatching and Skitter by Ezekiel Boone
I devoured these two books over a single weekend. It details a global apocalypse due to clutters of carnivorous spiders. Very fun, fast-paced stuff. The blurbed comparison to World War Z is pretty apt in terms of the number of narrators and global perspective the book takes–we jump from Washington to New Delhi to Scotland, sometimes meeting a new character we stay with across the series, other times meeting someone who ends up being spider chow within the end of the chapter. But the solid characterization keeps any of them from seeming stock or contrived. 
Resilience by Eric Greitens
The frame of the book is a series of letters written by the author to a former SEAL comrade who was struggling to return to civilian life after combat. I’m a sucker for Navy Seals turned authors like Jocko Willink and Mark Devine, but I enjoy the philosophies within their books despite the stiff prose. 
Resilience, by comparison, is well written–and Greitens works hard to mine quotations and philosophical tenets from ancient and modern sources in his work. Well worth the time. I’m in the midst of a second read and getting even more out of it. 
Barbarian Days by William Finnegan
It’s the Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiography of a life spent surfing. Finnegan spent a lot of time compulsively journalling his surf sessions, but there’s also magic in his prose:
“My utter absorption in surfing had no rational content. It simply compelled me; there was a deep mine of beauty and wonder in it. Beyond that, I could not have explained why I did it. I knew vaguely that it filled a psychic cavity of some kind—connected, perhaps, with leaving the church, or with, more likely, the slow drift away from my family—and that it had replaced many things that came before it. I was a sunburnt pagan now. I felt privy to mysteries.” 
Other Clicks and Views...
It’s Okay to “Forget” What You Read – The Polymath Project – Medium
These are 5 the swim challenges Navy SEAL candidates must pass - Business Insider
A Single Life on Vimeo
I hope you’re all doing well and that you can find (or make) the time to read whichever of these books catches your interest. And if you know of a good book that you’d recommend, please pass it along. 
Take care,
Chris Cunningham
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